So far, Macedonia has refused to take a stand following the air strikes in Syria, which target the President Bashar al-Assad’s chemical facilities. What is more worrying is the assumed new migrant wave that threatens the country and the pressure from the southern border. Military analysts, meanwhile, stress that they do not expect an increase of tension in the Middle East, or a shift in the crisis in Europe.
Defense Minister Radmila Sekerinska says that the conflict, which is thousands of kilometers away, will have an impact on Macedonia by increasing migrant pressure, but also with a global situation in the world that is not good for the smaller countries.
“What’s happening in Syria shows how frigile the security situation in the world is and how, unfortunately, the peace and security topics are once again becoming main topics. It also shows us, as a small country, how important it is for us to be part of collective security systems. As a state, we are preparing to increase migrant pressure on the borders,” Sekerinska said.
She pointed out that they are preparing to have further talks with the Ministry of the Interior in next few days, and with all other institutions about possible increases in the pressure on the border.
“But even without the attack in Syria, it is clear that pressure on the border exists. It is not so visible as in 2015, but the fact that some years ago we had about a hundred migrants who were illegally trying to cross the border, and fortunately were caught, shows that Macedonia and the region, basically, should get used that this will last, and that we must have a system that will be constantly active, not just when needed,” the minister said.
As a country, we emphasized our position regarding the use of chemical weapons for another topic, but that is our general stand.
“We believe that peace in the world is possible, and a stable world is possible only if we respect the global rules. One of those global rules of consensus accepted in the world is the ban on the use of chemical weapons. The use of chemical weapons in Syria may mean the use of chemical weapons tomorrow everywhere. Our position was clear, principled and part of our strategic commitments,” added the Minister of Defense.
Macedonia’s neighbors have already announced which side they support. Albania and Kosovo have declared that they back Western allies and their attacks on Syria.
According to them, the attempt by democratic countries to establish peace in this country is an indispensable activity, and chemical attacks practiced by Assad are out of the question. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic believes that it is a matter of conflict between great powers, and that his country should remain neutral.
The military analysts that we consulted think that the crisis will not be deepened and the conflict of European soil will be resolved. According to them, it is not realistic to expect a response from Russia.
They know their strength exactly, and they know very well that their strength is overrated and more based on marketing. But, of course, there will be a response through subversive actions, which can be even worse for Britain and France. So, we are talking about cyber-attacks, economic disruption etc. From the attacks in Syria, with the exception of the innocent population that no one cares, both sides benefited. US President Donald Trump has strengthened his position, his style of government is already just a circus and attraction for the media, and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin now has an alibi for the evil coming from the West. Bashar al-Assad, on the other hand, will be represented as a saint in front of the Muslim world because the most powerful states attacked him, and did nothing to him. Add that the United States, Britain and France have declared that they have fulfilled their goal and will no longer attack, so that one can assume that there will be no other consequences. When it comes to Macedonia, we are far from all important developments, we are absolutely safe,” analysts comment.
Macedonia’s National Coordinator for NATO, Stevo Pendarovski, agrees that allied attacks in Syria will not have far-reaching consequences.
“It will have, if it lasts longer, for example, during the 1999 bombing in the region, which lasted for months, and thousands of refugees came to the country. But in the concrete case in Syria, it is a one-off action, so I do not believe that there will be consequences for the surrounding countries, and not for Europe and Macedonia. The US warns that it will attack once or many times if necessary, but only if the regime uses chemical attacks. So, strictly if there is a reason for it. As for the possible new wave of refugees, I do not think it will come to that, at least not because of these attacks. In 2015, we had a crisis, but it was caused because the EU did not help Turkey, which on its territory held about three million refugees from Syria and then released it to Greece and Macedonia as a retaliation. It was followed by an agreement with Brussels, that is, with Angela Merkel, which we see that it is not respected. To conclude, a single bombing or an attack that lasts one day or night does not cause a new wave of refugees in a country that is constantly in war since 2011,” Pendarovski analyzes.